JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — As Florida’s hurricane season comes to an end, JEA is now shifting gears to prepare for other potential disasters, like an oil spill.
“We don’t wanna have a spill but if we do, we want to mitigate it as quickly as possible,” said JEA Director of Environmental Compliance Kevin Holbrooks.
On Wednesday, JEA wrapped up a three-day training exercise with local, state and federal responders on how they would contain an oil spill in the St. Johns River, if it were to happen.
This scenario involved a fictional docked ship leaking 8,000 gallons of oil, and involved a real-world response.
Action News Jax saw as crews set up containment booms, which would prevent the oil from spreading. In a real scenario, those would be deployed within the hour.
“We’ve had little spills and things like that, but nothing of this magnitude that we’re practicing for,” Holbrooks said.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection was also part of the team effort.
“The goal is to keep it contained at all costs and prevent any further type of contamination whether it be on the marsh areas or any type of wildlife habitat,” Nathaniel Harvey with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Emergency Response said.
“So once we do that, the goal is to clean it up, so we have skimmers, we have suction vac trucks and a lot of other assets that the state requires,” Harvey said.
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This once-a-year training opportunity brings together these agencies, so they can get to know each other as they work to streamline an emergency response when every minute counts.
“We have so many agencies that speak different lingo and their lexicon is so different. So when we do these training events, the goal is to synchronize acronyms and keep our communication as simple and straight to the point,” Harvey said.
“We’re all on the same page of what we would do. It’s critical,” Holbrooks said. “They’re all on our speed dial!” he said with a chuckle. “Just in case.”
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